psychological; assessments; psychologist; psychology; learning; behaviour; IQ;
Being different to others can sometimes be a problem. Some people find it hard to learn at school. Some need help with their behaviour.
It can be useful to find out how well a person can learn, and to find out what they know and what they find hard and easy. A psychological assessment is a way of finding out what a person knows, thinks, feels and can do.
This often helps with planning school or work programs, and may give some ideas about how to help the young person.
Who does psychological assessments?
Only psychologists can do the tests and work out what the test results mean. A psychologist is a person who has studied how people think, learn, feel and act. They know about the very strict rules they need to follow when doing the tests.
A psychiatrist is different to a psychologist – psychiatrists also help people with their thinking and behaviour, but they have trained first as doctors and they can prescribe medications. They do not do psychological testing.
What will happen?
The psychologist will talk with the person, ask some questions and get the person to do tasks. They may also talk with people who know the person well, such as their family and teachers.
Psychological assessments of young people often involve tests of their:
- intelligence (thinking)
- achievement (what they have been able to do)
- attention (whether they can concentrate well)
- emotions (feelings)
- behaviour (actions).
These tests have been done with lots of people, asking the questions in exactly the same way so the psychologist can find out how your answers compare to those of other people your age.
- Some tasks are like things you do at school and some are different.
- You will find some things easy and some things hard to do.
- Sometimes the psychologist will use a watch to find out how long it takes you to do the task.
- It is normal to not get all the answers right or finish all the tasks.
- During testing, psychologists are not able to give you any help or tell you if your answers are right or wrong.
- You do not need to do anything to get ready for the assessment.
Even though it is normal to feel a bit worried about having a psychological assessment, it is important that you are as relaxed as possible and that you just try your best.
How long does it take?
You and your parents/carers might need to have just one meeting with the psychologist, or you may need to have two or more.
What happens next?
Often a lot of information needs to be collected, so it can take some time for a final report to be ready and given to you and your family.
The report will talk about things that you do well and also any things that you might need help with.
The psychologist will go through the results of the assessment with you and your parents/carers to help explain what they might mean. The results can be affected if you were anxious or unwell when you did the tasks, if you did not want to do the tasks, or were not able to concentrate when the test was done, or have missed a lot of school, and the psychologist will talk about this.
The psychologist will also usually give you, your parents and teachers some ideas about things that might help you at school and at home.
Psychological assessments can be useful but they do not look at everything you can do. They do not for example look at how creative you are or how well you get on with other people.
They can be good at showing how easy or hard it will be for you to learn at school.
If you or your parents have any questions about any of this – it is a good idea to ask the psychologist to clearly explain it to you.
DECD (Department of Education and Child Development)
- School Psychologists come to schools to do assessments.
CAMHS (Child and Adolescent Mental Health Services). Psychologists in CAMHS can do psychological assessments for young people who are already getting CAMHS services.
- Northern CAMHS:
- Southern CAMHS:
Private educational or child psychologists who do psychological assessments can be recommended by your doctor or teacher. You can also find them listed in the Yellow Pages telephone directory.
SPELD 298 Portrush Rd Kensington Tel: 8431 1655
SPELD SA is a non profit organisation that provides advice and services to support people with specific learning difficulties.
There are many other topics on this site about learning and feelings. Some of them are listed in the 'Related topics' section at the top of this topic.
The information on this site should not be used as an alternative to professional care. If you have a particular problem, see a doctor, or ring the Youth Healthline on 1300 13 17 19 (local call cost from anywhere in South Australia).